Editorial Summary: North Carolina

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Winston-Salem Journal. August 6, 2022.

Editorial: Unaffiliated and unpublished

Separately and unequally.

This is how the state of North Carolina treats its largest bloc of voters, and it needs to stop.

political cartoons

There are more voters registered as unaffiliated in the state (nearly 2.6 million) than Democrats (nearly 2.5 million) or Republicans (2.2 million).

A large portion of unaffiliated voters also happen to be younger. In April, 47% of voters under 25 in the state were registered as unaffiliated, 42% of those aged 25 to 40.

So it makes absolutely no sense for the State Board of Elections to only offer seats to Democrats and Republicans, while effectively excluding 35% of registered voters in the state.

So more power for the unaffiliated Tar Heels, who are late for a vote at the table.

And more power to the nonpartisan nonprofit, Common Cause NC, among other plaintiffs, for filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of those voters, calling the current membership rules “arbitrary and capricious and not rational”.

As it stands, the incumbent governor has the power to appoint three members to the Board of Elections from his party and two from candidate lists submitted by the other largest party in the state.

In other words, only Democrats and Republicans.

The composition of the board is important because of the broad and sensitive nature of its work. It investigates voter fraud and campaign finance violations. It establishes the rules for the elections. And he has the power to appoint four of the five members to each of the 100 county electoral boards.

But the current rules leave the largest group of voters in the state, well, outside. And there is no logical or ethical defense for that.

“The state law barring plaintiffs and all other unaffiliated voters from serving on the State Council serves no public or worthwhile purpose, but rather is a means to entrench the Democratic and Republican political parties in power and to give them exclusive control over supervision, management and administration. of the electoral system,” the common cause lawsuit states.

Common Cause NC has devoted much of its energy in recent years to combating gerrymandering in the state. The composition of the Board of Elections is, arguably, a different kind of gerrymandering that creates outsized influence for Democrats and Republicans — whose numbers in the state tend to dwindle as the ranks of unaffiliated voters rise.

Then there is the issue of trust, credibility and integrity.

Even though there’s no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud in North Carolina or anywhere else, that hasn’t stopped the conspiracy peddlers.

An electoral council that is more reflective of the state’s population can only build trust and buy-in.

Of course, more room for voters unaffiliated with the council would mean less room for Democrats and Republicans. So be it.

Democrats are already suffering heartburn as the Green Party argues for a place in the November ballot. Democrats worry that liberal Green candidates are more likely to siphon off voters from their nominees.

They are particularly worried about the impact the Green candidates could have on what is expected to be a tight U.S. Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd. (In fact, the State Board of Elections also played a role in this debate, voting 3-2 along party lines to deny the Green Party a spot on the ballot before unanimously overturning that decision. )

But these are the breaks. You choose your candidate. You do your business. And you drop the votes as they can.

As for unaffiliated voters, by any objective measure, it is clear that the current way of appointing members of the State Elections Board is a relic of another era.

The Common Cause lawsuit notes, “This law is destructive of our democracy because it undermines public confidence in the electoral system. Limiting service on the Council of State to members of the Democratic and Republican parties encourages citizens to believe that election officials are chosen to look after the interests of their parties rather than ensuring that elections are conducted fairly for all.

And that, like gerrymandering, is anything but an exercise in democracy.

Charlotte Observer. August 6, 2022.

Editorial: Republicans demand protection for crisis-ridden North Carolina pregnancy centers, but ignore another threat

Senator Thom Tillis and Rep. Ted Budd recently sent a letter to North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein asking Stein to protect crisis-ridden pregnancy centers across the state from “attacks” they have begun to suffer since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The letter urged Stein to “ensure that women in our state can access services provided by pregnancy centers in times of crisis without fear of violence.” They pointed out that Mountain Area Pregnancy Services, an emergency pregnancy center in Asheville, was vandalized in June by a pro-abortion activist group. The words “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you” were spray-painted in red on the facade of the building alongside an anarchist symbol.

Violence or threats of violence are against the law and are never acceptable, regardless of their origin, and indeed Stein should pursue the civil penalties that the FACE Act of 1994 authorizes attorneys general to impose on those who vandalize buildings. clinics. But if North Carolina Republicans are upset about the vandalism of pro-life pregnancy centers, they should be equally critical when abortion providers are targeted.

People in North Carolina cannot access the services provided by abortion clinics without fear of violence, and they have not been able to do so for a long time. Violence against abortion clinics is well documented, dating back to the 1970s, when abortion was first legalized nationwide. Abortion clinics across the country have been set on fire and bombed, and abortion providers often face physical attacks, death threats and harassment.

It is largely for this reason that the City of Charlotte approved an ordinance in 2019 that creates a buffer zone around abortion clinics. The ordinance prohibits “intentional” or “unreasonably” loud noises, including loudspeakers, horns and megaphones, within 150 feet of schools, places of worship and medical facilities. Abortion providers and Raleigh advocates have called for something similar, but so far city leaders have failed to act.

Anti-abortion protesters continue to picket abortion clinics, sometimes with the intention of agitating, intimidating and harassing those seeking care. A favorite health center for women in Charlotte sees hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of protesters in any given week.

North Carolina law allows speaking and picketing outside a healthcare facility, as it should, as long as it does not obstruct access to the facility or interfere with the delivery of health services. However, it is illegal to harm or threaten to harm a person who obtains or provides health care services. Federal law provides similar protections.

Yet there are not many laws like this, and even then they are only effective to the extent that they are actually enforced. But further regulating this type of activity — as well as enforcing existing laws — is tricky because it involves the First Amendment.

Although crisis pregnancy centers have seen an increase in vandalism since the Supreme Court ruling, hostility towards abortion providers has also increased in recent months, with the anti-abortion movement perhaps emboldened. by the Supreme Court’s decision and the brazen efforts of lawmakers validating their positions. by extreme rhetoric that equates abortion with murder.

On top of that, Republicans in North Carolina have consistently denied people access to essential reproductive health care by refusing to expand Medicaid while defunding reproductive health facilities that also offer abortions — while also routing millions of dollars from the state budget to crisis pregnancy centers, the majority of which do not actually provide licensed medical care.

The GOP complains that Democrats aren’t speaking out against the sudden increase in attacks on crisis pregnancy centers, but there’s obvious hypocrisy there. Where have the Republicans been all this time, when abortion clinics were the victims of this violence? Where are they now, since this is still happening?

Tillis and Budd wrote that “law enforcement cannot play favorites when it comes to pursuing justice”. We agree, but politicians shouldn’t play favorites either.

Copyright 2022 The Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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